A Center City resident discovered a swastika spray-painted on the pavement near Philadelphia's Holocaust memorial at the intersection of 17th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway last week.
The resident saw the graffiti and called the Anti-Defamation League on March 12 who contacted the police "who immediately arrived at the scene to document and search for clues," according to ADL's interim regional director, Nancy K. Baron-Baer.
"The fact that an individual or individuals would choose to target a monument that is so important" to the Jewish community of Philadelphia "is obviously horrific," she said.
By the morning of March 13 city workers had cleared away the Nazi symbol.
An annual average of 1,410 anti-Semitic incidents were reported across the United States between 2002 and 2012, according to ADL statistics. That translates into about 4 incidents per day, though only 927 incidents were reported in 2012 suggesting that there may be a downward trend taking place.
In 2012, Jews and Jewish institutions in the Pennsylvania and Delaware areas were the target of 38 acts of anti-Semitism, 22 of which were categorized as harassment and the other 16 were reports of vandalism. One of the more recent incidents to be reported was the case of an anti-Semitic slogan written on a Jewish student's refrigerator at a Philadelphia college in November 2013.
Police told Baron-Baer they were hoping to utilize surveillance cameras near the scene of the crime to identify the perpetrators, who they said would be charged with ethnic intimidation and related offenses.
"Hopefully the culprit will be caught and brought to justice," she said. "People need to know that anti-Semitism still exists today."